The Biggest Moments from Kate Middleton and Prince William's Controversial Caribbean Tour

For the first time, Prince William and Kate Middleton faced significant backlash on an official tour. Although they received warm welcomes from many locals during their stops in Belize, Jamaica, and The Bahamas, they also encountered mounting tensions in the Caribbean nations where William's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, remains head of state.

01 of 17

Anti-Colonial Protests

Kate Middleton and Prince William
Kate Middleton and Prince William. Karwai Tang/WireImage

Prince William and Kate Middleton were forced to cancel one of the first outings on their Caribbean tour after protests broke out ahead of the couple's arrival in Belize.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge planned to visit a cocoa farm in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, but that was scrapped after villagers staged a protest about colonialism and indigenous last rights tied to a charity supported by William.

02 of 17

Shaking It Off

Britain's Prince William (R) dances with a Garifuna women at Hopkins Village, Belize on March 20, 2022.
Prince William and Kate Middleton. JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP via Getty (2)

The couple quickly pivoted—their smiles betraying no hint of the underlying tensions — as they attended a lively beach party with the Garifuna community in Belize. They joined in the festivities, dancing the local "punta."

"I said [to William], 'I'll hold your hand, and we will dance together,' " says Cynthia Ellis-Topsey, an ambassador for the Garifuna nation who was among those teaching the royals at the party. "It was beautiful. [Kate] was a bit nervous, but she certainly appreciated the children."

03 of 17

Playing Tourists

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit Caracol
Kate Middleton and Prince William. Samir Hussein/Pool/WireImage

William and Kate looked like a pair of tourists in casual clothes and sunglasses as they toured the ancient Mayan ruins at an archaeological site deep in the Chiquibul Forest of Belize.

"Wow," Kate exclaimed as she took in the view during their visit, which their tour guide Alan Moore called "important."

04 of 17

Going Glam

StarTracks Prince William Kate Middleton
Samir Hussein/WireImage

The Duchess of Cambridge debuted her first glamorous look of the tour in a hot pink shimmering metallic gown with ruffled sleeves by the British brand, The Vampire's Wife.

On their final night in Belize, the couple attended a special reception at the Mayan ruins of Cahal Pech. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met with community leaders, well-known Belizeans, and members of the government throughout the evening.

05 of 17

A Call for Reparations

Kate Middleton and Prince William arrive in Jamaica. Chris Jackson/Getty

A protest calling for slavery reparations took place in Jamaica's capital city of Kingston as the couple landed in the Caribbean country.

The protest, which came amid rumblings of Jamaica's plans to drop Queen Elizabeth as head of state, was arranged by the Advocates Network, a human rights coalition of Jamaican activists and equalities organizations.

06 of 17

Trench Town Visit

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visit Trench Town
Samir Hussein/WireImage

Their first major stop in Jamaica was a visit to Bob Marley's former home in Trench Town, which saw them play the drums with local musicians, take a selfie with the Jamaician bobsleigh team and take part in a soccer game.

While they were greeted with cheers from the crowds that gathered, they were criticized for pictures that made the rounds of them shaking hands with young fans through a fence.

07 of 17

'We're Moving On'

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with the Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness and his wife Juliet
Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prime Minister Andrew Holness and his wife Juliet Holness. Alamy Stock Photo

Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness directly addressed his country's intention to break away from the British monarchy during a meeting with the couple.

"There are issues here, which as you know, are unresolved, but your presence gives us an opportunity for those issues to be placed in context, to be out front and center and to be addressed as best we can," he told William and Kate. "But Jamaica is, as you would see, is a country that is proud of its history and very proud of what we have achieved. And we're moving on and we intend to… fulfill our true ambitions and destiny to become an independent, developed and prosperous country."

08 of 17

Kate Glitters in Green

The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge
Kate Middleton. Samir Hussein/WireImage

For a reception in Jamaica, Kate Middleton wore a sparkling green Jenny Packham gown, paying homage to the color of Jamaica's flag. She wore her hair in a chic updo and accessorized her look with emerald jewels on loan from the Queen.

09 of 17

William Expresses His 'Sorrow'

The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge
Prince William speaking in Jamaica on March 23, 2022. Samir Hussein/WireImage

Prince William expressed his deep "sorrow" for the horrors of the slave trade — and the role that Britain played in it in a landmark speech in Jamaica.

"I want to express my profound sorrow. Slavery was abhorrent. And it should never have happened," he said.

"While the pain runs deep, Jamaica continues to forge its future with determination, courage and fortitude," he continued. "The strength and shared sense of purpose of the Jamaican people, represented in your flag and motto, celebrate an invincible spirit."

While his comments were praised by some, others took issue with the fact that he didn't go so far as to make an apology on behalf of the monarchy or mention the issue of reparations.

10 of 17

Echoes of Post-Colonial Tours

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in Jamaica in 1953 (left) and Prince William and Kate Middleton in Jamaica on March 24, 2022. PA Images via Getty Images; Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images

William and Kate echoed Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip with a ride in an open-top Land Rover. Looking uncomfortable at times — they rode away from a Jamaican commissioning parade standing high in a Land Rover, creating an image that harkened back to the Queen's post-colonial tours.

11 of 17

A Rainy Start

Kate Middleton and Prince William
Prince William and Kate Middleton. Samir Hussein - Pool/WireImage

The Duke and Duchess started their first full day in The Bahamas with a special visit to a local school amid a torrential downpour.

"We seem to have brought the weather with us!" William joked.

In a speech Kate gave at the school, she gave her kids a special shout-out.

"Our three children, George, Charlotte and Louis, all love being by the sea, so I hope they will be able to experience your clear waters and beautiful beaches before too long," she said.

12 of 17

Royal Junkanoo

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge enjoying the Junkanoo carnival atmosphere with Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
Kate Middleton. Karwai Tang/WireImage

Despite the rain, they were determined not to disappoint the well-wishers — or miss the Junkanoo street festival — that had been awaiting them on Bay Street in Nassau, The Bahamas.

As the clouds began to clear, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge ventured out for the first walkabout of their Caribbean tour.

Charisma Thompson, 46, who was there with friends, chatted with William during the lively parade in Parliament Square.

"He said, 'Thank you for your patience and sorry for the weather,' and we said, 'It's not your fault,' " Thompson shared. "We told him we love him and Kate and we didn't mind waiting. He was loving the excitement and you could see it was exciting for him."

13 of 17

Royals Set Sail!

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Chris Jackson/Getty

The competitive Duke and Duchess of Cambridge faced off in a sloop race at the Royal Nassau Sailing Club.

The race involved six boats, with a presentation on shore after for the top three finishers — including the Susan Chase, William's boat!

The future king got a pat on the back from his wife when they both returned to the dock absolutely soaked from the rain but looking invigorated.

14 of 17

Kate Channels Cinderella

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend a reception hosted by the Governor General at Baha Mar Resort on March 25, 2022 in Nassau, Bahamas.
Samir Hussein/WireImage

Kate Middleton and Prince William stepped out for one final night of glamour to attend an evening reception at Baha Mar Resort on the white sand beaches of Cable Beach in Nassau.

Kate wore a shimmering turquoise bespoke silk duchess satin gown with hand-tied bows at the shoulder from British designer Phillipa Lepley that paid tribute to her host country's flag — and gave her the ultimate Cinderella moment.

15 of 17

Shifting Views

Prince William
Prince William. Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Prince William addressed the growing calls for change in the Caribbean in a speech he gave at the reception.

"With Jamaica celebrating 60 years of independence this year, and Belize celebrating 40 years of independence last year, I want to say this: We support with pride and respect your decisions about your future," he said. "Relationships evolve. Friendship endures."

16 of 17

Kate Gets Adventurous

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge watches as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge tries Conch Salad during their visit to a Fish Fry – a quintessentially Bahamian culinary gathering place which is found on every island in The Bahamas on March 26, 2022 in Great Abaco, Bahamas. Abaco was dramatically hit by Hurricane Dorian which saw winds of up to 185mph and left devastation in its wake. Their Royal Highnesses are learning about the impact of the hurricane and see how communities are still being rebuilt more than two years on.
Prince William and Kate Middleton. Samir Hussein/Pool/WireImage

For their final day in The Bahamas, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge traveled to Abaco's main island and visited a Fish Fry — a quintessentially Bahamian culinary gathering place that is found on every island in The Bahamas.

During the outing, William and Kate met vendors who prepared a taste of Bahamian cuisine, including the local favorite — conch salad.

"I'm a little bit more adventurous than William is!" Kate said as she stepped up to sample a piece of conch.

The royal had one reaction to the taste after she expertly took a bite.

"That was lovely," Kate said.

17 of 17

An Unprecedented Statement

kate and prince william
Kate Middleton and Prince William leave The Bahamas on March 26. getty

As Prince William and Kate Middleton's tour came to an end, the Duke of Cambridge has released a landmark statement, reflecting on the future governance of the Caribbean nations.

"I know that this tour has brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future. In Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas, that future is for the people to decide upon," he said.

And, whatever the future holds for the countries William and Kate visited this week, the Duke of Cambridge reiterates his hope that the 54-nation Commonwealth — the voluntary body of mostly-former colonies loosely linked to Britain — will continue to "create a better future" for its people.

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